Nearly 15 million U.S. households experience barriers to accessing and affording food. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new layers of hardship across our communities, and especially for immunocompromised patients.
Foundation Supports Emergency Food Assistance Program for Immunocompromised Patients during COVID-19
The COVID-19 Emergency Food Assistance Program, launched today by Team Rubicon and the Patient Advocate Foundation, and supported by a grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, aims to provide much-needed help to immunocompromised patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis whose ability to access or pay for food is at greater risk due to COVID-19.
The comprehensive program brings together the unique offerings of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization that serves communities by mobilizing military veterans to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and the Patient Advocate Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that provides case management services and financial aid to patients with chronic, life-threatening and debilitating illnesses.
“COVID-19-related food insecurity among immunocompromised patients, who are unable to leave their homes for risk of exposure, is a critical need that is growing increasingly urgent,” said John Damonti, president, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. “With this program, we were able to quickly bring together two unique organizations, each with a specialized capability, to create a comprehensive emergency food assistance response for patients.”
This program is the latest in the Foundation’s COVID-19 relief efforts that have spanned more than 30 countries and five continents around the world — and counting. In each initiative, the Foundation is driven by its mission to address the areas of highest unmet need among the most vulnerable populations in our communities. Its efforts have spanned providing urgent relief, basic human needs and support for patients and front-line workers in regions most severely impacted by COVID-19.
In execution, the COVID-19 Emergency Food Assistance Program will leverage Team Rubicon’s national network of 120,000 volunteers to provide community-based support, such as delivery of food and groceries, free of charge, while the Patient Advocate Foundation will provide financial assistance to patients in need.
To receive assistance, patients, their family members, patient advocacy organizations or members of their care team will fill out a web-based form available on Team Rubicon’s website. Eligible patients can request complimentary delivery of food and other critical supplies directly to their home by one of Team Rubicon’s volunteers. Patients eligible for financial assistance will be able to apply for a one-time grant of $500 to help pay for food and nutritional needs including groceries, food delivery or pick up and medically-tailored meals.
“Team Rubicon’s vast network of volunteers and the Patient Advocate Foundation’s funding platform offer unique, complementary capabilities, enabling support to be delivered to patients quickly,” Damonti said. “We’re hopeful that this program might offer much needed relief to those most in need.”